Chrystal Evans Hurst
“The Work and the Wonder of Love”
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”
1 John 4:7 (ESV)
We walked behind the house and into the backyard. My mother wanted to show me something.
There was a small tree. Not quite a sapling, but still young. It was a pecan tree, to be more exact.
As we stood in the yard of the house my parents had just moved into, I wondered why my mother thought to point out this particular tree.
“She planted it for her dad.” My mom paused and turned her face up slightly to look into the tree’s thin branches. “Her dad passed away and she planted this tree for him.”
My mother’s own father had just recently passed away and I’m sure my mom felt connected to the gesture of keeping a beloved memory alive.
It’s been some years since my mom showed me that tree. And even though the tree wasn’t planted for her dad, she has taken care of it like it was.
The tree has grown. Its trunk has gotten wider and its branches have stretched higher and become denser. We have to look up with more than a slight glance to see the top and it even provides much-needed shade.
But we didn’t plant the tree.
While my mother has watered it, trimmed it and picked up the fallen pecans, she did not place the roots of the tree in the ground.
Someone else did.
But now, we all benefit from its growth and shade.
More than 50 years ago, a man by the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. placed the roots of grand ideas in the soil of our nation. He did it to keep the dreams alive of others who had gone before. He did it while praying that in the future, others would benefit from the growth of the ideas. He did it because he knew the roots of those ideas would grow and honor the God who created people of all color.
While Dr. King planted the ideas in the hearts and minds of millions, he was not with us very long to water the tree himself.
Today, we all benefit from the tree of brotherly love and biblical equality that Dr. King planted.
But we do so because so many people came alongside Dr. King, then and now. They watered the dream, trimmed it and picked up the pieces that fell every now and again.
So many over the years have honored the message and the memory of Dr. King by caring for the dream as if it were their own.
In a way, it has been. People have been compelled to keep the dream alive and well. They have felt connected because their stories or standards reminded them that the dream mattered.
And it does matter.
To all of us.
We are all connected. First John 4:7 reminds us that Christ-followers all bear the mark of the glory of God. As believers, we bear the special mandate of loving others because the love of God covered our sin. When we love our brothers and sisters, we are watering, trimming and picking up what we all hold dear--our love for God, His love for us and our remembrance of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. This is what makes it possible for us to, indeed, all be connected in Him.
And love matters. Love for those who look like us. Love for those who don’t.
The beauty of our love lies simply in this … the work of love allows us to behold the wonder of love. So, as we care for each other, we honor not only the dream of brotherly love from one man, but more importantly, the God who gave that man the ideas to plant. In doing so, we all benefit from love’s covering.
Dear Father in Heaven, help me to love my brothers and sisters in Christ and also those who do not yet know You. Help me remember that Your sacrifice was the beginning of the love that I know and the love that You want me to give to others. Help me to faithfully do my part to share Your love with the world--whether that’s on the other side of the globe, in my town, on my street or down the hallway. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (ESV)